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Being Accurate or Sounding Natural?
The (legal) interpreter´s challenges
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
! Translation/Interpretation is a complex task
! Differences in how languages ‘package’ information
! Sometimes the translator needs to make some decisions:
!  Being close to the original text ! risk of not sounding natural
!  Use a natural and idiomatic translation ! risk of adding or omitting
! This does not imply having a bad translation… It is just the
closest we can get!
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
Value for research and practice
! It is interesting for researchers to study the language
contrasts and the different possibilities of translation
! Case studies on these aspects can help translators and
interpreters to foster new translation strategies and reflect on
their procedures
! In some contexts, the addition or omission of information
can be crucial!
E.g. Legal context (Ibarretxe-Antuñano & Filipović 2013)
La metió en el coche
Her put in the car
‘He pushed her into the car’
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
Language contrasts
! Languages might be very different with respect to some
Manner of Motion
El hombre vino de puntillas desde la habitación
The man come of tip.of.the.toe from the room
‘The man tiptoed from the room’
Direction of Motion (and
Manner of Motion
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
Language contrasts
In Spanish:
! Motion verbs tend to express the direction of the movement
! Manner is expressed only if relevant
! Use of venir ‘come’ only in direction towards speaker
In English:
! The direction of movement is not normally expressed in the verb (out,
up, down…)
! Manner is normally expressed in the verb
! Deixis is expressed only if relevant ! come can be used towards
speaker and hearer
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
Language contrasts
! In this translation, sounding natural is preferred:
El hombre vino de puntillas desde la habitación
The man come of tip.of.the.toe from the room
‘The man tiptoed from the room’
! But… Do we know where did the movement finish?
In English we don´t
In Spanish, we know it
was near the speaker
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
Sounding natural…
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
The current data
! Witness interrogation
! San Francisco Jurisdiction (California)
! Bilingual Transcript
! Translation as close to the original as possible
! Focus on being accurate
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
What would you think of someone who
I didn´t see nothing
No vi nada
I am going to ask you details,
little details, okay… for a little
more, so that you…
Le voy a preguntar detalles,
detallitos chiquititos, okay, para
un poquito más, para que…
I was already on top of the car
Yo ya estaba arriba del carro
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
Being accurate
… may mean adding extra connotations
“that is, associations which over and above the literal
meaning of an expression, form part of its overall
meaning” (Haywood et al, 1995: 171)
e.g. attitudinal, associative, affective meaning
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
What to conclude
! Language contrasts do not allow us to have 100% exact
word-by-word translations
! Important to be aware of how to ‘read’ a translated text to
avoid being biased
! It is important to be aware of the challenges of the
interpreting process
! Having a second check by a linguist/translator might be
benefitial in some cases (as in the US with control
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
Future directions
! Internationalisation of society ! more interpreting-assisted
public service communications
! Interpreter/Translator & Police Officer training to adapt to
the challenges of multilingual interviews
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]
¡Gracias por su atención!
Thank you for your attention!
Dr Alberto Hijazo-Gascón
[email protected]
Ibarretxe-Antuñano, I. & Filipovic (2013) Lexicalisation patterns and
translation. In Rojo, A. & Ibarretxe-Antuñano, I. (eds.) Cognitive Linguistics
and Translation: Advances in some Theoretical Models, 251-281. Berlin:
Mouton De Gruyter.
Haywood, L., Hervey, S. & I. Higgins (1995) Thinking Spanish Translation: A
course in Translation Method Spanish to English. London: Routledge.
Slobin (1996) Two ways to travel: Verbs of Motion in English and Spanish. In
Shibatani, M. & Thompson, S. (eds.) Grammatical Constructions: Their form
and meaning, 195-317. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Slobin (2005) Relating Narrative Events in Translation. In Dora Diskin Ravid
& Hava Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot (eds.) Perspectives on language and language
development: Essays in honor of Ruth A. Berman, 115-129. Dordrecht, The
Netherlands: Kluwer.
TACIT November 2015; [email protected]